The Best Non-Alcoholic Spirits

Non-alcoholic spirits are hitting the shelves of stores and bars everywhere. But what are they, and are they any good? We’re sharing our favorites and tips for using them.

a mint julep surrounded by ingredients and tools

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The best non-alcoholic spirits

The mocktail movement is in full swing. The Shirley Temple, while still delicious, is no longer the only non-alcoholic drink in town.

Thanks to non-alcoholic spirits, mocktails can now have layers of flavor without any of the booze. Whether you’re participating in challenges like Dry January or Sober October, or simply just looking to consume less alcohol, zero-proof spirits are here to make life easier and mocktails taste better.

But what are these zero-proof spirits, and do they even taste good? Below, I’ve compiled my favorites and tips for using them in drinks at home. (This post isn’t sponsored — just based on my experience with non-alcoholic mocktails.)

More resources: How to Make Clear IceHow to Juice LimesTypes of Glassware

three bottles of ritual zero proof alcohol

What are non-alcoholic spirits?

Non-alcoholic spirits, also called zero-proof alcohol, are meant to replace alcohol in drink recipes. They contain 0.0% alcohol by volume (ABV) but mimic the taste of booze.

They are different from non-alcoholic wine and non-alcoholic beer, as they are meant to act like a spirit or liqueur in a mixed drink, rather than be sipped on their own.

These alcohol replacers can be used 1:1 in many cocktail recipes to make them non-alcoholic.

Types of non-alcoholic spirits

There are a few kinds of non-alcoholic spirits on the shelves.

Pre-mixed: First, let’s get the pre-mixed mocktails out of the way. These bottled or canned drinks may contain non-alcoholic spirits, but they are designed to be sipped just as they are. However, you could certainly mix them with other non-alcoholic spirits to create your own mocktails!

Alcohol-removed: These spirits are made like regular alcohol, but then the ethanol (AKA the alcohol) is removed through a process known as dealcoholization. Most common is alcohol-removed wine.

1:1 replacements: Then there are zero-proof spirits that are meant to be 1:1 alternatives to a specific spirit, such as a non-alcoholic whiskey alternative to use in lieu of boozy bourbon. They are intended to taste like their alcoholic counterpart. Ritual Zero-Proof, Lyre’s and Spiritless are two companies making this type of zero-proof spirit.

Creative flavors: Other companies have created spirits that are focused on flavor and complexity. While they can be used as a tequila replacement, for example, they don’t necessarily mimic the flavor of tequila. Seedlip is famous for its botanical elixirs that make great drink mixers.

a jigger and zero-proog alcohol next to a glass of a virgin Bloody Mary

Regular alcohol vs. non-alcoholic spirits

If you’re used to drinking cocktails, the biggest difference you will find is in the texture and the flavor. Alcohol usually has a sharp bite to it, which is often mellowed with sugar, flavor or aging, so imagine a liquid with those same flavors — but without the bite.

All this said, if you are looking for an alternative to alcohol, but like the flavors of alcohol, these spirits are a solid option. If you are a purist, you probably won’t like them. Here are the biggest differences

Texture: Alcohol has a slightly higher viscosity than water, and zero-proof spirits have a water base. You’ll notice when you sip them that they aren’t quite as thick as alcohol. It’s subtle, but it’s there.

Flavor: A lot of the flavor of spirits comes from the ingredient(s) that are fermented, so the non-alcoholic spirit maker has a lot to emulate, depending on the type.

For example, vodka starts with grains or vegetables like potatoes. Gin is similar, but with juniper berries and other botanicals as well. Whiskey is also made from grains, and then it’s aged in charred wooden barrels which gives it its smoky, woody flavor. Tequila and mezcal are made from the agave plant; rum, from sugarcane; and brandy, from fruit.

Aging: For spirits that are aged, such as whiskey but also some tequilas, brandies and rums, nailing the addition of those woody, smoky flavors is key to mimicking the real deal. Think liquid smoke.

Two margarita glasses with limes and lime wedges, perfect for enjoying a refreshing Virgin Margarita.

How to use zero-proof spirits

If you’re starting a mocktail journey, you’ll want to learn how to use non-alcoholic spirits to make satisfying sips at home.

You can mix these with non-alcoholic mixers like cola, lemon-lime soda, ginger ale, ginger beer, tonic water, sparkling water/soda water/club soda. Alternatively, you can just as easily shake them into your favorite classic cocktail recipe instead of alcohol to turn it into a dry drink.

The best place to start is a 1:1 ratio in your favorite cocktail recipes. For example, if you wish to make a virgin margarita, you would look to replace the tequila and the orange liqueur that are used in the recipe.

If the recipe calls for 1½ ounces of tequila, you should use the same amount of a tequila-esque zero-proof spirit in its place. And for the orange liqueur, you can substitute it with orange juice or a triple sec replacement like Lyre’s orange sec.

Low-alcohol cocktails

Another option for using zero-proof spirits is to use them in place of some of the alcohol. These are called low-alcohol cocktails, and they have less ABV than a regular cocktail made with alcohol.

A good rule place to start is to replace half the alcohol in a cocktail with a similar zero-proof spirit. Experiment until you find the right balance for you.

For example, if the recipe calls for 2 ounces of whiskey, you would do 1 ounce of regular whiskey and 1 ounce of a whiskey alternative.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, Feast + West receives a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are our own. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

a virgin Moscow mule in a copper mug

Bitter liqueur alternatives

Our Pick
Ritual Zero Proof Aperitif Alternative
$34.95 ($1.38 / Fl Oz)
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03/08/2024 12:03 am GMT

Those who like spritzes and negronis will love knowing they can get some similar flavors with an alternative that brings in the flavors of famously bitter apéritifs like Aperol and Campari.

The Ritual Apéritif Alternative has the bold, bittersweet flavors we know and love, and it’s perfect for making summery cocktails like spritzes. Lyre’s Italian Spritz, Lyre’s Italian Orange and Ghia Non-alcoholic Apéritif are other non-alcoholic apéritifs on the market, though I’ve not personally tried these yet.

Lyre’s also makes the Apéritif Rosso, a sweet vermouth alternative, that would work well in a non-alcoholic Negroni.

Try it in: a bubbly negroni sbagliato or a refreshing Venetian spritz

Gin alternatives

Ritual Zero Proof Gin Alternative
$32.95 ($1.30 / Fl Oz)
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03/08/2024 12:08 am GMT

Herbal gin is easy to emulate. Flavored syrups like rosemary simple syrup or lavender syrup can be a great way to bring in botanicals — you may not even need a zero-proof spirit, or it can help to enhance the herbal flavors.

Ritual gin alternative is my favorite of their whole line — it has lots of herb, juniper and botanical flavors, making it a fun non-alcoholic spirit to layer with other ingredients.

And though it’s not one of the 1:1 zero-proof spirits, Seedlip Garden 108 has some great gin-like qualities with fresh herbs and notes of cucumber and peas.

Try it in: a classic lime gimlet, a refreshing gin & tonic or a citrusy Tom Collins

Rum alternatives

Ritual Zero Proof Rum Alternative
$28.98 ($1.14 / Fl Oz)
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03/08/2024 12:18 am GMT

Rum is more difficult to emulate, in my opinion. That sugarcane flavor might be better coming from a brown sugar syrup. Spices do help to capture the taste of spiced rum, so if that’s your bag you might like one of these.

Ritual rum alternative definitely has more spiced rum qualities than it does white rum. It has flavors of banana and orange, as well as cloves and anise.

Lyre’s Cane Spirit is supposedly closer to a white rum, while Seedlip Spice 94 and Lyre’s Dark Cane are two more out there that I hear good things about. These would be closer to a white rum, while I haven’t tried them yet, but

Try it in: a moody dark & stormy, a spiced mojito or a simple rum & cola

Sweet liqueur alternatives

Lyre’s Coffee Originale Non-Alcoholic Spirit
$37.80 ($1.59 / Fl Oz)
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03/08/2024 02:03 am GMT

If you like sugary cocktails made with liqueurs, you aren’t out of luck. There are a few options for you.

Tequila alternatives

Our Pick
Seedlip Grove 42 Non-Alcoholic Spirit
$31.99
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03/08/2024 12:43 am GMT

Whether you’re making a margarita or a paloma without alcohol, a good tequila alternative is key to nailing that kick of clean spice and sweetness.

My favorite is Seedlip Grove 42. Though it’s not a 1:1 tequila alternative, its zesty, citrus notes are a perfect match for many tequila drinks. I’ve enjoyed it in a margarita

If you prefer mezcal, you’d be best off with one that has more smokiness, such as Ritual tequila alternative. I’ve tried this one and the smoke flavor is very strong, so it’s great for mixing.

I haven’t personally tried them, but I hear good things about Monday Zero Alcohol Mezcal and Spiritless Jalisco 55.

Try it in: a virgin Bloody Maria, a spiced Mexican mule or a sweet strawberry margarita

Whiskey alternatives

Our Pick
Lyre's American Malt Non-Alcoholic Spirit (Bourbon Style)
$37.80 ($1.60 / Fl Oz)
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03/08/2024 12:53 am GMT

Whiskey seems like it would be a hard flavor to emulate. How do you get those smoky, oak flavors into a spirit without aging it?

Lyre’s American Malt is my favorite I’ve tried. It has flavors of black tea and smoke and adds a delicious depth to any drink.

Honorable mentions include Spiritless Kentucky 74, a non-alcoholic bourbon, and the smoky Ritual whiskey alternative. All of these are meant to swap whiskey 1:1.

Another option to try is this black cask bourbon tea from Harney & Sons. It has the full body and rich vanilla, caramel and smoky flavors of a fine bourbon.

Try it in: a fresh and light virgin mint julep, a zesty whiskey sour or a bold old-fashioned

Other non-alcoholic mixers

For non-drinkers, there are myriad choices beyond flavored water, soda, shrubs and iced tea: non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirits.

These have limited shelf lives in comparison to bottled alcohol, so be sure to store them properly.

Non-alcoholic beer

Our Pick
Athletic Brewing Company Craft Non-Alcoholic Beer Variety Pack
$69.99 ($0.97 / Fl Oz)
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03/08/2024 12:58 am GMT

Non-alcoholic beer has existed for years, but finding good-tasting brands could prove difficult.

These are some of the top-rated zero-proof beer brands on Amazon:

Try it in: a beermosa, beer margarita or a michelada

Non-alcoholic wine

Sutter Home Fre Chardonnay Non-Alcoholic Wine
$20.93 ($0.83 / Fl Oz)


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03/08/2024 01:03 am GMT

With the rise of the zero-proof movement, imbibing wine without alcohol is getting easier as there are more and more quality non-alcoholic wine options.

These are the top-rated non-alcoholic wines on Amazon:

In some cases, you could also substitute red grape juice, pomegranate juice or cranberry juice for red wine or white grape juice or white cranberry juice for white wine. These would work well to make a non-alcoholic version of sangria.

Bab Louie & Co. Orange Cocktail Bitters
$11.99 ($11.99 / Fl Oz)
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03/08/2024 01:13 am GMT

Bitters alternatives

Even cocktail bitters, which traditionally contain trace amounts of alcohol, can be non-alcoholic.

All the Bitter and Bab Louie & Co. are brands that produce both classic and creative flavors, such as aromatic, chocolate mole and lavender, allowing customers to season their favorite drinks without any hint of alcohol at all.

two non-alcoholic mimosas with a citrus juicer

Tips for choosing non-alcoholic spirits

Using non-alcoholic spirits for the first time? Here’s what I recommend:

  • If you have the opportunity to visit a bar that serves mocktails, do it! You can sample some of the more popular spirits here, and perhaps the bartender will give you a sample. Don’t love it? Then you’ve only invested $10 on a drink instead of a $30 bottle.
  • Buy something similar to what you love. If you love tequila, start with something similar!
  • Smell each NA-spirit and sip it on its own first, so you know what it tastes like, can take in the aromas and can adjust a recipe accordingly to fit the flavor profile.
  • Use it in drinks you already love or mix it with a soda you like, such as ginger ale or cola. You know what to expect, so you can spot the differences and see if you like the changes.
  • Don’t love them on their own? Opt for a low-alcohol drink by cutting your favorite regular booze in half with the zero-proof spirit.

Remember, non-alcoholic spirits are NOT the same as regular spirits and they aren’t going to be an exact match for flavors you are used to. It’s the same way a plant-based burger is not the same as a regular beef burger.

Most of all, experiment and have fun! I’d love to hear what spirits you try and how you like them.

lemons, strawberries and ice in a glass

FAQ

Do non-alcoholic spirits taste like alcohol?

Yes and no. While they are not identical, non-alcoholic spirits can emulate the flavor of alcohol through flavorings. However, they lack the sharp bite that alcohol brings and are less viscous.

Are non-alcoholic spirits really alcohol-free?

Non-alcoholic spirits contain less than 0.5% ABV (alcohol by volume). Some of these are distilled spirits that have been through the dealcoholization process, while others are made by infusing, macerating or extracting flavors and botanicals.

Mocktail recipes to try

The Golden Ratio Guide:

Mix the perfect cocktail, every time

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